Yogi Rant

Happy Wednesday everyone! Mid-way through the week :)

Anyone celebrating with some yoga?

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I wanted to share with everyone one of my pet peeves. And I am calling it a yogi rant because I am about to rant about it, and hey- the website is called  Yogi in Action, therefore I am qualifying myself as a yogi :)

So-what’s my rant about? Our society’s obsession with the concept of “You deserve this. You earned it.”

I was working out the other day, in a quite intensive barre class. And we took a 30 second break to stretch out our legs about mid-way through the class. And the instructor continued to repeat “Enjoy this! You earned it- you deserve it.”

Um- say what? Why do I need to earn a leg stretch? And that comment had my brain thinking of how often we tell ourselves this. We barter with ourselves on what we have to do to be able to enjoy something.

And this just sets us up for failure. Because when we’ve been denying ourselves what we want for so long, the thing that we’re working towards “deserving” has to become bigger and better. It has to make up for everything that we’ve been putting off, and all the pain we’ve gone through. And eventually- no matter how great the reward is, it just can’t make it worth while.

I remember, back in my days of calorie counting, when I made myself a peppermint hot chocolate at home. I measured out the teaspoons exactly as described on the instructions (therefore, ensuring I had the correct calorie count included for the day) and mixed in the hot water. I sat on the couch, sipping my drink and all I could think was how the calories weren’t “worth it”. I wasn’t enjoying my drink enough to make it worth those calories.

My philosophy now is a tad different than that person I was 7 years ago. Now I say f*ck it!

You want the hot chocolate right now? Drink it (and you’re going to want to use about twice the prescribed mix, and you should probably have some milk in there too for flavour). Have that croissant too if that’s what you want.

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You want to stretch out your legs without an intensive work out? Great! Enjoy that stretch!!

You want to lay around all day and watching movies? Have fun!

Let’s all enjoy life right now, and stop needing ourselves to earn that enjoyment first.

So happy Wednesday everyone! Go and enjoy your day :) I’ll be enoying a yoga class, and then a little bit of wine!

I’d love to hear from you guys. What do you think of the “you deserve it” mindset? Or, what’s you pet peeve?

 

Upcoming summer travels

Hi all,

How was everyone’s week? Mine was filled with work and a bit of working out. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time looking into future trips of mine, and I finally have a few trips actually planned and I am soo excited!

Next week:

I am heading to Zagreb, Croatia next week as one of my client’s has their accounting records held in Croatia. I’m flying out for work, but staying over the weekend to explore a bit. You always hear about Crotian beaches, and I am sad I won’t have an opportunity to visit during this trip. But a trip to the capital isn’t something to complain about either :)

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April:

I’m heading to Prague, Czech Republic for Easter weekend. I’m flying out Thursday, 2 April and am staying till late night on the 5th April. The more I research about Prague the more it sounds like an amazing place to visit.

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May:

This is currently the one I spent all of today booking hotels, and I am soooo excited for. I am heading to Portugal for 2 weeks with my mom. Can. Not. Wait!!!

First up, I am spending 5 days in Lisbon, and the plan is to visit a couple of day trips around the area.

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Then flying up north to Porto, which is the home of port so will definitely be enjoying a vineyard.

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And ending in the south of Portugal, in the beautiful beaches of Lagos.

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I cannot wait! Only two more months. I have it all booked and I think it’s going to be an amazing trip.

I currently don’t have any travel plans for June, July or August, but I am still trying to arrange a few more trips. Any suggestions of areas I’ve missed in my travels so far?

And then, I am spending two weeks in September back in Canada. This trip will be amazing as I have some times with my sister, my mom, and then am heading out on a stagette weekend and finally, my friend’s wedding day.

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[Last trip home was for my other friend’s wedding last summer so this is representative for next year].

So far, it is shaping up to be another great year of travels!!

Anyone else have plans for traveling? I would love to hear about them!

Barcelona!

Hope you all have enjoyed my trip recap from the first half of my time in Spain. Honestly- writing these recaps out are so much fun. I get to re-experience my time and look through the many pictures that I took.

Next stop- onto Barcelona. I think Barcelona is one of my favourite places I’ve been to. It has a little bit of everything- it has a beautiful beach, a great nightlife, amazing sites to see, and so much more.

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So the first thing my friend and I did when we arrived in Barcelona, was we went and saw the Segrada Familia. This church was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi, and his imprint is all over the city. But nowhere is as apparent as on this church. The church first started being built in 1882, and they are still building it. Estimated completion date is 2040.

When Gaudi died, in 1926, the project was only about 25% complete. However, his designs have continued to be followed for this church. His intention around the church was to mimic that what you say in nature. There are pillars which look like trees, and the roof is meant to look like the canopy of leaves. There is an entire section in the church where you can read more about Gaudi’s inspirations. The canopy of leaves for the roof symbolises how, just like trees cover you from rain, God’s house covers you from the troubles of the world.

The church is truly a masterpiece. We had to wait for about an hour, maybe a bit more, to buy our tickets, but it was worth the wait.

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Definite must see of Barcelona!

After the trip to the Segrada Familia, we continued on a Gaudi experience, and saw another building which he had also designed. We decided to wait until the next day to see Park Guell, a park which has his designs all over. Now, one thing I wish I had known beforehand- was, that when you buy your ticket to go into the Segrada Familia, you can buy your ticket for other things as well. We purchased tickets to see the Gaudi museum, for the next day. This ticket is time stamped, so you have a timeframe for your entrance. We didn’t time out how long it would take us to go from the hotel to the museum, and ended up having to run through most of Park Guell to get to the museum on time. And there was no one there! The museum is not actually in the ticketed part of the Park Guell, and therefore is much less popular. So- buy your ticket to get into the park beforehand (not the museum!) at the Segrada Familia and save yourself a second line-up!

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We rounded out our first day by checking out the Barcelona fruit market. Which is pretty much my favourite place ever. It sells everything food related- fruits, juices, vegetables, meats, candy, drinks- everything! It was cheap to buy stuff, and everything we bought was delicious. I went back three separate times and just wanted to wander about the shop.

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It was such a great day.

The next day, we went to the Park Guell and saw the Gaudi museum. From this,  I have no pictures as the “museum” is actually just his house. And Gaudi was a very austere man. Personally, I think that if you’re not a huge Gaudi fanatic, this is probably a stop better missed.

But to go inside the Park Guell, is a must-do. I loved the Park. It’s very touristy, and you do have to buy a time-stamped entry ticket. My tip? If you’re entry is 1:30-2 (as ours was). Wait until about 1:50 to go in. Everyone else from that time has already entered and you can skip a line (and enjoy a glass of sangria while you wait).

Park Guell actually has kind of a fun story. The park was originally built with the intention of urbanisation. There was a plan to build about 60 houses in the area. However, only two houses were ever built. The first was built, to be a “show house”, and a second was built and put up for sale. No one ever came forward to buy it. Finally, Gaudi bought it (and is now where the museum is held). Now the park is one of the most touristy things to do in Barcelona, and all because the housing development failed!

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We ended this night on a tapas tour that we had signed up for. Some of my friends had gone on it when they were in Barcelona, and loved it, so we signed up for it. I wish someone would’ve told me to eat beforehand though! It was an absolutely great night, though I would’ve like more to eat! The tapas tour had us go to three different bars, where we had between 1-4 tapas at each place. As each tapa was mostly a piece of bread, with a bit of food on top, it was not nearly enough food. Especially as we were having equivalent drinks at each place.

Including, at the second stop, where we learnt how to drink from a porron. This is a traditional Spanish glass wine pitcher. Our guide told us how, at a dinner party, or similar gatherings, this is passed around and everyone has some. No glasses are used as your lips never touch the pitcher, therefore allowing everyone to drink directly from it. Which then had us passing it around, trying out our skill at it.

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At the tapas tour, my friend and I ended up meeting 4 other Canadians, 2 Americans, and an Australian. After the official tour was over, the 9 of us bought some drinks to enjoy down at the beach, and then headed to a club for some late night dancing. The night was an absolute blast….though did mean that both Erin and I slept until 2 in the afternoon the next day.

While both of us wanted to do nothing but lay in bed and re-hydrate, it was our last day in Spain, and we knew we had to rally and finish up the trip with the one thing we had missed.

The beach

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Did I mention that Barcelona is amazing and has a stunning beach right in the city? Because it does!

We spent a few hours laying on the sand before having a final Spanish meal in Barcelona. The next day we were up, and Erin was back to Canada, and I went back to the UK.

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As I started my recap to Spain, I absolutely loved this trip. Spain is a beautiful country, and there is still so much that I want to see. A trip back is hopefully in the cards for me at some point, because it was fantastic!

I’d love to hear more from others about any of your trips to Spain! Anywhere I missed that I should go to next time? My next travel recap is my trip to Greece!

Travelling through Southern Spain

HI friends,

Sorry for the lack of blogging! I’m really working on creating a good balance of blogging when I have something to say, and time to properly say it. I didn’t have the time over the past week due to life and work being busy, so I had to wait until things eased up a bit.

I missed you all though!

After a couple of week’s with no travel recaps, I thought I would start up again with my trip to Spain.

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I will start this recap off with the simple fact that I loved Spain! Loved it so much. And I knew I would love it the moment that I arrived in Seville. It was evening when we arrived, and my friend and I went to a little shop where we had some sangria and tapas. It was about 11 pm and still very hot (Seville is very south, and we were there in June so during the day it was around 40 degrees C- very hot).

Our first full day in Seville, we started it off with seeing the Seville Cathedral. It is the largest Gothic church, the largest cathedral in the world, and the third largest church in the world. And it was stunningly beautiful.

We approached it from the wrong way, so we had to walk about half-way around it to find an entrance. Upon the entrance were some old ladies, with one approaching both my friend and me. Now, I speak a very,very minimal amount of Spanish- so little, it’s probably more accurate to just say I don’t speak Spanish. But this lady proceeded to give me my “fortune” for about 10 minutes, in full Spanish, despite me trying to stop her several times since I couldn’t understand what she was telling me. In the end she gave me a little tree, and I gave her a few euros so she would leave me (despite her insisting that I actually owed her 10 euros). So if in Seville- watch out for the ladies giving “fortunes” outside of the church.

However, eventually we did see the church and it was beautiful.

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My friend and I spent the rest of the day wandering around Seville. You can tell the church has a huge history in Spain, as pretty much anytime you see a building, it’s a church. It was a very, very hot day, so we rounded out our first day with some time at the pool of our hotel. A must if you are there in June!

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Day 2 in Seville started with a trip to Plaza de Espana. While the plaza is fairly new, especially in European standards, as it was built in 1929, it was stunningly beautiful. It was built with Spanish tiles everywhere, and is more a piece of art than building. It inspires thoughts of a time long past.

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After wandering around the city all day (with many breaks into air conditioned shops and cafes), we spent the evening in an air-conditioned building (can not stress enough how hot it was when we were there), and watched Flamenco dancing. Flamenco dancing gets its roots from this area, and is a form of Spanish folk music, and includes dancing, singing, and some fantastic Spanish guitar. The dancing is reminiscent of tap dance, but has so much more flair. The show itself was about an hour long, and was amazing to watch the performance live.

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Day 3 in Seville was actually spent outside of Seville. As soon as my friend and I started planning a trip to Spain, we knew we had to go to Granada, and see the Alhambra (more about it below). My friend organised buying our ticket, as tickets in high tourist season can sell out far in advance. The ticket allows entry for a 30 minute time frame, and the website is clear that if you miss your time slot, your ticket is no longer valid.

This was concerning to my friend and I, as we had some difficulties getting the train to Granada. Due to confusions when buying our ticket, the woman at the counter sold us the ticket that was directly to Granada, which meant we were to arrive at 3:10, despite our entry time being between 3-3:30. We had looked up train times the day before, and had arranged to be at the train station for 8 am, due to another train showing that it would get us to Granada for noon. We later realised that the confusion was the train we had found was not a direct train, so the woman working at the train station hadn’t realised that it was an option. Unfortunately, by the time we realised this (and ran to the counter to try and buy tickets for the train we wanted), we were told we had missed the cut-off time to purchase tickets for that train time. As such, we took the later train, and had to run from the train station, to a taxi, and then across the grounds of the Alhambra to get to the entry place for our ticket. We were very lucky, as we didn’t arrive until 4 and were still let in. However,  I don’t advise anyone to ever repeat this!

The run and confusion was worth it once we were in.

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The Alhambra construction first began in 899, but was then abandoned until mid-11th century. The palace was built for the final Islamic rulers in Spain. As such, it has a very middle Eastern feel to it. From the ceilings, to the floors, everything is carved and beautifully detailed. It is a world heritage site, and if you are ever in Southern Spain, it is a must-see.

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It was worth the 4 hours we spent on the train that day, as well as the massive confusion while trying to book trains and figure everything out. It is definitely a full day event, so if you are planning a trip- don’t plan anything else that day.

That night, we took the train back to Seville, and collapsed exhausted into our beds. We were up bright and early the next morning, as we had a flight to catch to Madrid.

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We were only in Madrid for two days, and I’m sure there will be many people who disagree with me for saying this- but that was more than enough time. Truthfully, Madrid was a let down after Seville- and I much preferred Barcelona over Madrid as well.

Now, this could be that I was there when the King of Spain was stepping down, and his son was ascending to the throne. And the hotel we stayed at was right by the palace. As such, everytime we went anywhere, we had to go through a security check and have our bags searched. We didn’t even try and go to the event where the King stepped down, as there were just people everywhere. I’m also not a huge museum person- and the main thing to do in Madrid are see museums- there are so, so many. However, as I didn’t really want to go to those museums, I found that two days was sufficient time.

What did we do since we didn’t spend any time at the museums? Well, we shopped. Madrid has some fantastic shopping. We saw the palace, but unfortunately, due to the timing of the King stepping down, we were unable to go inside at all.

We also checked out a beautiful old market which I loved (up until I saw Barcelona’s market…but we’ll get there)

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And that night we checked out the Madrid nightlife. One thing you learn about going out in Spain, is the night starts out very late! The clubs don’t even open until midnight, and no one really shows up until 1 or later. The picture below was taken at 3 am, as my friend and I were starting to think about leaving as we were both exhausted from a day of sight seeing. The club was really just getting started! Very different than a Canadian night club where last call is at 2 am.

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The below is the only picture I have from the next day. My friend and I got up and saw a few sights, but it was so hot (about 35 degrees), we were exhausted (and possibly a little dehydrated) from the night before, and were generally not feeling it. As such, shortly after this picture was taken, we went back to the hotel and read our books and enjoyed some relax time after being go-go-go for the past few days.

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We did manage to leave our hotel for some delicious seafood paella. It was worth braving the heat. Another recommendation if you’re going to Spain- research where to get good paella. Spain knows that every tourist is looking for it, and the few times that Erin and I ordered it without researching beforehand, it tasted like rice with tomato sauce. The authentic paella is amazing and worth the time it takes them to make it.

 

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The next day we were off to Barcelona- my personal favourite city in Spain! However, as this post is very long- we will pick up on Barcelona next time!

Has anyone been to Seville, Granada or Madrid? What were your thoughts?

Wine and catching up

Hi friends,

How’s everyone’s week going? Mine’s been another busy one at work, though I have been able to enjoy some relax time, so I can’t complain too much.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting backwards on my trips, yoga teacher trainings, etc., so I thought I would switch it up again, with a general post of what’s happening in my life and what I’m thinking about moving forward. I always enjoy when bloggers break out the wine in post, and share things that otherwise might not have come up in a typical post.

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My glass of wine which I enjoyed in the smallest tub ever in Switzerland.

So what would I share with a friend over a glass of wine?

  • Right now, I am so bored. I’m at that antsy part of my busy season where I’ve been working long hours for 6 weeks, and I know there’s at least another 6 weeks to go. I want to go and do something that’s fun, but am so tired at the end of a work week that I often just end up sleeping in and running errands over the weekend.
  • To help with that boredom, I’m starting to look into flights and trips that I can take over the summer. While I have some planned already, I know that some are going to be on my own and I’m hesitating about where I want to go for these. I back-packed through SE Asia on my own, but that was when I was younger, and more fearless. Now I’m wishing I had more people to travel with me because it’s always more fun to have someone to share the experience with!
  • I just booked my flight back to Canada for September and I am so excited! Last time I spent only 10 days back in Canada and it was a whirlwind. This time I’m back for 2 full weeks, and I will have more time with my sister and my mom, which will be fantastic.
  • Assen is planning something for Valentine’s Day, and has been for a couple of weeks. I haven’t even bought a card or chocolates or anything! My plan is to get something in the next couple of days (otherwise I’ll run out of time) but I’m feeling pretty bad I haven’t done anything else!
  • My grandma’s been in the hospital for the past 5 weeks and is looking like she’ll be released this week. I am so happy to hear she’s being released, as when she was first admitted, she was quite sick and it would’ve been really hard to have been so far away from my family if she passed away. I’m definitely going to make some time to visit with her for my next trip to Canada!
  • I have been working from home the past couple of days because I’ve been really sick and can’t seem to stop coughing. This morning I was on a conference call and kept having to mute myself because I was coughing so hard. The good part was working from home, I was able to sleep in until about 8:15, and still start work at 8:30.

A little all over the place, I realise! But once I start talking, my mind starts going a mile a minute. How about everyone else out there? Anything you’d like to share over a glass of wine (or a small bottle)?

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How yoga teacher training changed my yoga practice

Hi everyone,

How was everyone’s week? Sorry there was no mid-week post this week. The week kind of got away from me!

I thought it would be fun to switch up the travel posts a bit longer, and talk about my yoga practice a bit and how it’s changed since I completed my yoga teacher training.

For those who are new to my blog, in July 2013, I moved down to Nosara, Costa Rica for a month to obtain my yoga teacher certificate.

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I absolutely adored my time there. Nosara is a stunningly beautiful place, with fresh food, a beautiful sandy beach to take walks on, as well as you are in the middle of a lush, green jungle.

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The yoga itself was intense, with a 2 hour morning session each day, a 3 or 4 hour session (some theory, some training) in the afternoon, and a further 2 or 3 hours in the evening for more theory and occasionally more yoga. I figured I was doing about 5-8 hours of yoga a day, plus walking for at least an hour a day to get around. As such, by the end of that month, I was in fantastic shape!

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However, when I came back to my “real world”, I became very busy with life. Within two weeks of being back from Costa Rica, I was packed up and moving to the UK.

Now that some time has passed, I have started looking back and reflecting on this experience and how it changed me. It also brings me back to one main question:  how has my practice changed since that month spent doing yoga on the beach?

For starters, I stopped going to a yoga studio. This was partially due to financial reasons, as regularly going to a studio can get very expensive, very quickly. An easy way for me to save money was to start doing yoga at home. Sometimes I create my own flow, and other times I sign up for online yoga classes. I feel like I have a solid base to be able to complete these flows with the correct alignment.

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My new yoga studio

Secondly, becoming a certified yoga instructor actually made me realise that being a yoga teacher wasn’t for me. While this may not have actually changed my yoga practice, I would say there was a shift in my perception based on this, so I have included it. While I enjoyed my month in Costa Rica, I was ready to go home by the end of it. I immersed myself in yoga for an entire month, and found that I wanted more variety. There were people who attended the training who would spend our breaks working on their postures, practicing their classes, and reading more about yoga. Those are the people who I want to be my instructor at a yoga class! But for me, I like to practice my yoga, and then I’m ready for something else. On my breaks, I would travel around the island, or watch movies from my hammock. One of my favourite days was when a bunch of us rented quads, and spent the day at a waterfall before heading up to the highest point in town to have a drink and watch the sunset. Picture below is from that day and makes me smile to see it!

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Finally, my yoga practice has changed because despite the fact that I might not go to a studio anymore, and I realised being a yoga teacher wasn’t for me, I still learnt more and changed because of the experience. In general, I would say I stress less about stuff now, and have learnt how to “let go”. Things will always change, and keep changing, and I would say that I’m a bit better at just letting those changes happen without becoming too attached to what I currently have, or what I want to happen. This reflects in my yoga practice (with sometimes not being able to touch my toes on a stiff day, and being less concerned about that) as well as just my general life (which helps when I have a deadline and am at work until 2:30 am to get it done, less stress about getting it done and more action focused on what needs to happen next).

Has anyone else completed their training? How did they feel afterwards?

Week in the life of

Hi friends! How’s everyone’s weekend going?Mine has been relaxing, yet cold, which I’ll explain a bit further on in this post.

I am having so much fun sharing my travels with everyone! I feel like I’m reliving each trip as I write it out.

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(Sneak peek of Spain- my next travel recap)

I often share photos of my travels on facebook or Instagram, and I would say the number 1 question I get from people is, “How are you doing all this travel- don’t you work?!”

I think that social media, such as facebook, instragram and twitter, give a very skewed version of what most people’s lives are like. A week of fighting with your partner is kept silent, but a picture of the flowers he brings you to apologise is shared with the world. A month of nothing but work is rarely posted about, but any fun weekend activities is snapped and shared. One of the best quote’s I’ve heard is “Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Melissa Joy.

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I’m as guilty as the next person of sharing all my fun trips and travels, and then leaving the rest silent. To try and balance it out, I thought I would share a week of my “real life” with you all. It’s busy season at my work, which starts in about November, with a bit of a break over Christmas, and then amps up until March or sometimes as late as April. This week was a bit worse than I’ve been having every single week, but is largely representative of my busy season. As such, it is not exciting, but shows that my life is not all fun and travels.

So here is an “all work, no play” snapshot of my week Jan 25-31:

Sunday: I woke up at 10:30, as I love sleeping in on the weekends (a morning person, I am not!). By 11 am, my computer is on and I’m working. I work straight through until 5 pm, eating some leftover pizza while working. Once I’m done working, I pack up everything and get my yoga mat out. These days I exclusively do yoga at home, and I complete a 45 minute vinayasa flow in my living room. I quickly shower, and am on my computer for 6 pm with a Skype call with my best friend.

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Her and I in Nice, France.

Her and I chat for an hour. Then I relax for the rest of the evening (currently watching Friends on Netflix). I set up everything for work the next day (coffee set up, smoothie made, lunch packed, etc.). I’m in bed by 11 pm.

Monday: my alarm wakes me up for 6:30 am, and I leave my house by 7:40.I get to the office for 8:10 am. I work the day through, including working through my lunch. Assen and a few people arrive into the office around 7 pm (Assen and I work together), so I take a 40 minute break to eat some Indian take-away with everyone. By 7:45, I am back to my desk and continue to work for another 2 hours. At 9:45, I pack everything up and drive to the grocery store as I realise I don’t have any food at home. I am at home with all my food by 10:40, and I quickly put everything away, and get everything ready for the next day. To try and have some relax time, I make the poor decision to have a bath at 11:20 pm, and therefore don’t end up going to bed until 12:30.

Tuesday: my alarm wakes me up at 6:15, and I am leaving the house for 7:15. I have a call with some of my colleagues in France for 8 am, so I had to ensure I was at work in time for the call. I work until lunch, when I run out to grab some food, and then arrive back at work to keep working (so probably took a 30 minute break). I work until 7 pm, when the client kicks us out (sometimes I work in our office, and sometimes I work at client locations, depending on what I’m doing in the day). I get home at 7:30 and have the fantastic surprise that the massive order of tea I had ordered (which I had delivered to my friend’s house in Canada and she sent to me) has arrived!

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I spend 30 minutes texting people that it’s arrived and unpacking the 11 different kinds that I bought (it’s a problem, I know).

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I realise time is going by quickly, so I quickly set up my dinner to cook- I’m making frozen broccoli and cauliflower in the oven, and salmon to go with it, but the frozen veggies take 45 minutes to cook. As such, I throw the veggies in, do a 30 minute barre yoga workout (online) and then saute up the salmon. Everything’s ready by 9 pm, with my workout done, and my computer is back on. I work for another hour and a half (eating while I work), before finally packing up at 10:30. I clean up the kitchen, paint my nails, and then finally make it to bed by 12:30.

Wednesday: my alarm goes off at 6:15, but I’m too tired so I end up resetting it until 7 and sleeping in a bit. I finally get up and get ready, and start my laptop up at home by 7:45. I do about 30 minutes of work of some urgent stuff that needs to get done ASAP, before packing everything up and heading to the train station. Today I have a meeting in London so am taking the 50 minute train in for it. I work the entire time I’m on the train (with an exception of the final 5 minutes where I rest my eyes a bit). I’m in a meeting for the rest of the morning, and don’t get back to Londons King Cross until 1. I grab a soup to eat on the train ride home and am back on a train to Cambridge (working on the train ride home). As soon as I arrive back, I drive out to a client as I am giving a presentation at 4 pm, and don’t yet have the details of what I’m presenting. At 3:45, I am given the final draft of what I’m presenting and I read it through before heading in. I work until 7 before being kicked out by the client. At this stage, I’m feeling pretty exhausted so I just went home and didn’t do anything. I relax at home, and make my nails a bit more fun, and less professional now that my meeting’s over. I do some gently yoga/stretching for 30 minutes. Somehow still don’t make it to bed until 12:30.

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Sorry for the bad picture- but just wanted to share the nails :)

Thursday: This day started out just depressing.  I woke up to my alarm at 6:30 to a cold apartment, had a cold shower, and then realised that none of the plug ins were working. The lights were on, so it didn’t seem to be a problem with the electricity. I spent the first couple hours of my day on the phone with the electricity company, my landlord, and the electrician. Then the electrician came, and he managed to fix the hot water and the plug ins (and had working internet again!) but he couldn’t fix the heating, as there had been a leak in the boiler and a plumber had to come in to fix that before the heating could be turned back on. The plumber didn’t arrive until 5- which left me sitting in my cold house all day, working at my kitchen table waiting for someone to arrive. The plumber opened the boiler and exclaimed that he had never seen a boiler  so filled with water. Just what you want to hear-right? For those that are counting- this is the second apartment I’ve lived in, in the UK, and the second boiler I seem to have broken. The first one had the thermometer break, and therefore created boiling water for the heated water, as the device to turn off the heating was broken- this caused massive humidity and mold growth that was terrible to live in and was ultimately the reason I moved. And now this one. I swear I don’t do anything to break them! To try and make up the time that I had lost from dealing with all of that, I worked until 9 pm. I made a late dinner for myself, had a long hot shower to warm up and headed off to bed. Made to bed earlier than usual- in bed by 12:15.

Friday: my alarm went off at 6:15, and I realised there was no way that it was going to happen. Instead I went back to sleep until 7:15, and had a bit later of the day. Spent my morning out at my client, and afternoon in the office.  The morning was also spent speaking to my landlord, and arranging the plumber to come fix the boiler (which will be happening on Wednesday- hence why I’m cold over the weekend). I worked until 7 pm when I realised my brain was slowly shutting down, made my to-do list for Sunday, and went home. Assen’s been working crazy hours this week (most days he’s been working till 1:30 am), so him and I made plans to have a relaxing evening together to see each other, and ended up sitting on the couch and watching a movie before admitting exhaustion at 11 pm and going to sleep. Not sure how I made it to bed earlier on a Friday evening than the rest of the week, but it happened.

Saturday: I had a glorious sleep in until 10:30, and I felt so much better. I try and take one day off a week, no matter how busy I am, and Saturday was that day. Unfortunately, when your working almost 70 hour work weeks, the one day off means it has to deal with all your errands. As such, I spent most of the day grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and doing laundry. I also spent a couple of hours researching my next couple of trips (currently thinking either Iceland or Prague in April, and Portugal in May.) Saturday night Assen and I headed to our favourite Mexican restaurant to spend some time together after a very busy week.

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Sorry if anyone fell asleep reading that. But as I said above, I think it’s important to show the less exciting parts of my life on here, as it’s not all crazy trips and experiences!

How was everyone else’s week? Anyone else have a crazy week at work?

Bulgaria- Part 2

Hope you all enjoyed the first part of my trip to Bulgaria.

We left off at the end of my time in Plovdiv, and heading back into Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.

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My favourite part of Sofia was the Bulgarian museum that my bf and I went to. As I mentioned in my last post, I found the history of Bulgaria to be incredibly fascinating.

Including, and not limited to, the fact that the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria had several wars, and the Ottoman Empire enslaved Bulgaria for over 500 years. The Ottoman Empire was Muslim, and forced the country to convert. There is a story of how women were forced to either change their religion (as previously Bulgaria was a Christian country), or be killed/raped. So instead, they would jump off of mountains to avoid their fate. (Like I’ve mentioned before- Europe has a dark history)

All of this was learnt in the Bulgarian museum, which was stunningly beautiful as it used to the palace for royalty. The museum, and some of the artifacts we saw, are below.

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The Bulgarian alphabet, how it used to look is on the left, and the more modern style is on the right.

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After our brief time in Sofia (also spent meeting many people for drinks, and coffee’s, but which I have no pictures of so I will skim past), I headed up to the Rila monastery with Assen and his mom. The Rila monastery is up in the mountains of Bulgaria. It is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, and after a visit, I can see why. It was founded by a hermit in the 10th century, and was built up due to donations by almost of the Bulgarian rulers for the next 400 years.

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Don’t mind the extremely preppy look I was sporting that day. I had to cover my shoulders to be allowed into the monastery, but it was much too warm to actually wear the sweater.

My trip to Bulgaria ended up at Assen’s family cabin, which was also up in the mountains. It was “Virgin Mary’s day”, so we celebrated with a lamb dish, which I have no idea what was in it besides lamb and rice, but was delicious. Assen’s brother used to live in the UK, so he speaks English, but the rest of his family ranges from little to no English. As such, there was a lot of pointing and miming things out to get the point across.

As is consistent with what I know from other friends I have that are from Eastern Europe, love in families is shown by providing them with food. As such, Assen’s family continued to provide me with food (and more and more food), and would make comments about how much I ate. At one point, Assen’s grandpa tried to point something out to me, but Assen warned me not to look because if I looked away from the table, food would have found its way on my plate.

Beyond the massive amount of foods that I was provided, it was a great family environment to be in (despite not following anything that was being said).

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The lamb dish we ate

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The table setting (this is only about half of the food that ended up on the table).

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Me being very proud of myself for eating everything

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Assen’s family

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Assen and me, out at the front of his cabin

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The view from the front of the cabin

The trip ended with a drive back to Sofia, and a final night out with Assen’s friends. The Bulgarian way is to enjoy many drinks (and some shisha) in a large group. So that was our final night in Bulgaria, before heading back to the UK.

Before going to Bulgaria, I expected it to be a sterotypical Eastern European country, with dilapidated buildings and not much to see. However, I will gladly go back after my visit, as there was more diversity and beauty there than I ever would’ve expected!

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I promise I’ll take a bit of a break from my travels to discuss some of the yoga I’ve been doing, as well as food I’ve been making in the kitchen. Anyone reading out there, please feel free to tell me what you’d like to hear more of!

Bulgaria- on the beach and the oldest city in Europe

As promised- next trip to discuss is my trip to Bulgaria!

Now, I arrived in Sofia after a day and a half of travels. I had been in Edmonton, Canada for a friend’s wedding, and then flown to Vancouver to visit with my sister during my 4 hour layover. I then flew to London for a 10 hour layover, before continuing on my flight to Sofia, Bulgaria. As such, I arrived having no sense of the time or day of where I was.

My trip to Bulgaria was a bit different as well, as my boyfriend is Bulgarian, and therefore I was hanging out with a local who knew the customs and the areas to go. Almost immediately upon arriving in Sofia, after sleeping for too short of a period, we drove for 4 hours to the seaside, Sozopol.

We spent our first 3 days at the seaside, spending the days on beautiful sunny beaches

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The evenings were spent eating delicious meals, and going out to various different clubs. The one night we went out to “chalga” club, which is a bar which plays chalga music, a type of music specific to Eastern Europe. An example of this type of music is here.

It was very interesting to be out in Bulgarian clubs, as Bulgaria is very concerned about image. The country was communist until 1989, and now has a wide disparity between the “have’s” and the “have not’s”. Therefore, things you can do to show others that you have wealth are very predominat. VIP seating is very important, driving nice cars and being well dressed is more of a necessity. The biggest example I saw of this was while out at the chalga club. There, waitresses came around with packets of napkins. You could purchase a packet (containing around 500 napkins), for about the price of 3 drinks (so about $12). Once you purchased the napkins, you throw them around on to the ground. So essentially, you are throwing your money away, to show everyone in the club that you have so much, you can waste it.

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The napkins on the ground.

On another night we went out exploring some of the sites,

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As a Canadian, which country was officially established in 1867, I found Bulgaria to be a very interesting place to visit. It is a very old place. There were civilizations there back from 5000 BC, and in 632, the country became an independent state.

The history the country has was very obvious both when we went to a museum (which I’ll cover in my next post), as well as when we went through the city Plovdiv. The city’s history spans 6,000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest cities. When you visit it, there are two ancient theaters, traditional Bulgarian homes from the medieval period, cobblestone roads, as well as many historic sites from when the Ottoman empire was ruling Bulgaria. The ancient theater that you see in Plovidv is the world’s oldest theater.

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The theater was very interesting to see, as the condition its in is amazing. I’ve been to Greece (I promise there is a recap coming of that trip soon), and this is an older theater than what you see there but still seemed practically brand new. The theater itself was built in about 98 CE. I later researched it, and some of the fun facts about the theater include that some of the damage was caused in the 5th Century by Attila the Hun. Also, part of the reason it is in such good condition is that it was only discovered in the early 1970’s, as it had been covered by a landslide and has since been excavated so you can see it as it is today.

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It was such a fun day to spend wandering around this old theater. And, since it’s not nearly as popular of a tourist spot, you actually can wander all around the theater.

Next up on the blog is the second part of my trip to Bulgaria, including Sofia, the Rila Monastery, as well as a couple of days spent in the mountains.

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Has anyone else been to Bulgaria? How did you like it?

Also- is anyone else wishing it was summertime with these photos? Or just me?

A look back of my experience moving to a new country

Hope everyone enjoyed my posts of my Christmas trip. I had so much fun writing it out. I thought I’d switch this post up a bit and talk a bit about my experience moving to a new country, before moving on for my next travel recap of Bulgaria.

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When I first moved to the UK, it was supposed to be for a year and a half, which would’ve been up at the end of February. As I’m not quite ready to leave the UK, I’m currently undergoing the process of applying for an extension to my visa, so I can stay for an additional year. As I’ve been going through this, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting over the past year and a half, and figured I would share my experience.

One thing I’ve found is that sometimes it’s very lonely. I was very lucky back in Canada to be surrounded with an amazing group of friends. I saw them on a regular basis, and had a wide variety of people to hang out with. I had friends to go to yoga classes with, other friends who loved to bake, different friends who were interested in learning about recycling and composting. Sometimes I would be booking my weekend activities 2-3 weeks in advance because I had so many plans.

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I had lived in the same city for 9 years, had gone to University there, had a variety of jobs I held throughout, and started my career there. I was far away from my family, but still saw them at least twice a year.

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Moving to the UK was a very far move away. It takes a 9 hour flight for me to get home, and my last flight home cost me $1900 round-trip. I was lucky this past summer, and I had quite a few visitors but it’s still not the same. I can’t just call up my friend and go for coffee with her so we can catch-up. Instead, we have to pre-arrange a Skype date and make sure we are both home so we can chat for awhile.

I have struggled to find friendships in the UK. If I’m not away traveling, I’m pretty much always at work. While I do have work friends, I find that we typically only get together for drinks on a Friday night, and generally our main chats are about work. I tried taking a Spanish class to meet friends (as well as learn Spanish) but unfortunately work got really busy for me, so I only made 4 of the 10 classes (and didn’t have any luck making friends).

Therefore, sometimes I really feel lonely and miss the friendships I had back in Canada.

Another thing I have found about moving is that it completely shakes most of what you know about yourself.

Before I moved to the UK, I found that I struggled with what the future held- I had spent a lot of time on my education, but didn’t really like my job. I thought my next steps were going to be opening a yoga studio, moving to a smaller city, and generally living a more relaxed lifestyle.

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This felt like a very safe option for me.

Yet, when I moved to the UK, and away from other influences in my life, I realised that this plan of mine didn’t actually sound like how I wanted my future to be. I like to be mentally challenged. I enjoy taking on new and exciting things everyday. Dare I say it, I even enjoy the corporate life.

I realised that I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to challenge myself and see what kind of changes I could make. I didn’t want to take the job that guaranteed me a 9-5 work day. I wanted to take the job that maybe required a few extra hours, but that made me feel like I was making a difference. I wanted to be able to take nice holidays, and one day if I have children, I want to be able to provide them with opportunities like traveling the world, signing up for activities they’re interested in- all those things that having some money can really help with. This is not to say that I don’t think those things happen with yoga teachers or yoga studio owners- however I realised that it wasn’t the path for me.

I think it’s that moving away made me leave my safety bubble which I had currently lived in, and experience something entirely new. And what I was experiencing outside of that bubble, was something I really enjoyed yet had previously never expected to enjoy.

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Moving to the UK also gave me confidence in myself. This is something I’ve struggled with my entire life (and still do, I don’t think it will ever go away entirely). But when you move away from everything you know, start a new job in a different city, it is hard. I didn’t realise how hard until I went through it. But having gone through that struggle, I can see what I can do. I know that I can make it through a difficult time, and it’ll all be ok.

I have probably had more things happen to me in the past 18 months, than in past 5 years before that. I moved to a new country, struggled to establish a new home, went through a break-up, lived in an apartment with mould growing everywhere and a negligent landlord, and then fought with my landlord for my damage deposit back.

That’s just a small sample of what has happened, and having gone through this without my support group nearby meant that I had to learn to be a lot more independent. I do have friends here who helped me through it, but it also meant that I had to learn when to ask for help.

This all made me more confident in who I am. I know that I can make it through a difficult situation, and it’ll be ok.

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Finally, moving to the UK has made me very, very grateful for everything I have. I have been able to have so many incredible experiences since moving here. Whether it’s traveling to a new country,

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or exploring the country that I live in now

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or even just having people to skype with whom I love and I miss. I am so truly lucky to have been able to experience the past year and a half, and I am looking forward to another year.

This next year of my adventure will bring more travel, some of which by myself (as I have fewer visitors planned this year), another trip home to celebrate my wonderful friend’s marriage, and who knows what else.

I would say to anyone who is considering moving: do it! It will be hard, and there will be struggles, but it’s all worth it. At least, it was for me :)

Has anyone else ever moved somewhere new? What was your experience like?